“Paradox is a pointer telling you to look beyond it. If paradoxes bother you, that betrays your deep desire for absolutes.”
Frank Herbert

God Emperor of Dune

At Home

n

For almost three years this post was presented at the beginning of my blog. It was set there as a wish and a reminder for a change in my life. A few days ago I decided it was finally time to let it go. I am at home now. This post is here to tell you that a lot of my energy is now … at home. Though I still write here, I write much more at Bhudeva – an online reflection of our physical home. You can find me here as well as there :)

“One of the most joyous things we can do is to find our place, the land where we belong. Having found our place, we snuggle into it, learn about it, adapt to it, and accept it fully. We love and honor it. We rejoice in it. We cherish it. We become native to the land of our living.”

Carol Deppe

Posted in Expanding, inside | You are welcome to add your comment

Why Clay Shirky Banned Laptops, Tablets and Phones from His Classroom

n

Last year, when I attended the EdgeRyders event I witnessed for the first time (having been mostly away from conference-like social situations) how far along the presence of digital devices has come in contaminating the social space. In some sessions many (if not most) people were looking at and engaging digital devices (laptops, smart-phones, tablets, etc.). Some of it was supposedly in service of a noble cause: creating a live feed and documentation so that other people, not attending the event in person, could partake.

I felt that the devices were breaking up the presence of the room, both of individuals and as a group. By trying to “bring in” people who were not in the room resulted in the people who were physicall in the room to not be present in it. These distraction, I felt, didn’t effect just those who were engaging their devices, but the entire group and space. We had all made time, traveled and spent money on coming together … and then, in my mind, compromised our togetherness … a self-defeating act. But I also felt that my feelings on this were not shared by the majority of people there.

Reading Why Clay Shirky Banned Laptops, Tablets and Phones from His Classroom sent me back to that experience and brought me some relief. Apparently it isn’t just me and my feelings … there is research too!

On multitasking:

“We’ve known for some time that multi-tasking is bad for the quality of cognitive work, and is especially punishing of the kind of cognitive work we ask of college students … even when multi-tasking doesn’t significantly degrade immediate performance, it can have negative long-term effects on “declarative memory,” the kind of focused recall that lets people characterize and use what they learned from earlier studying … A study from Stanford reports that heavy multi-taskers are worse at choosing which task to focus on. (“They are suckers for irrelevancy,” as Cliff Nass, one of the researchers put it.)”

On social media:

“… on top of the general incentive for any service to be verbose about its value, social information is immediately and emotionally engaging. Both the form and the content of a Facebook update are almost irresistibly distracting, especially compared with the hard slog of coursework … The form and content of a Facebook update may be almost irresistible, but when combined with a visual alert in your immediate peripheral vision, it is — really, actually, biologically — impossible to resist … In the classroom, it’s me against a brilliant and well-funded army (including, sharper than a serpent’s tooth, many of my former students). These designers and engineers have every incentive to capture as much of my students’ attention as they possibly can, without regard for any commitment those students may have made to me or to themselves about keeping on task.”

On how other people are effected by one distracted person:

” … screens generate distraction in a manner akin to second-hand smoke … multitasking on a laptop poses a significant distraction to both users and fellow students and can be detrimental to comprehension of lecture content … Allowing laptop use in class is like allowing boombox use in class — it lets each person choose whether to degrade the experience of those around them … The smallest loss of focus can snowball, the impulse to check WeChat quickly and then put the phone away leading to just one message that needs a reply right now, and then, wait, what happened last night??? … Anyone distracted in class doesn’t just lose out on the content of the discussion, they create a sense of permission that opting out is OK and, worse, a haze of second-hand distraction for their peers.”

On focus:

“I’m coming to see student focus as a collaborative process. It’s me and them working to create a classroom where the students who want to focus have the best shot at it, in a world increasingly hostile to that goal.”

 

Posted in AltEco, Intake, Intellect Run Amok, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free

n

Another very sharp presentation by Cory Doctorow on information, privacy, security … the talk is 40 minutes with excellent followup Q&A.

Posted in AltEco, Business, Intake, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment

Copying Brings Prosperity

n

Illegal Copying Has Always Created Jobs, Growth, And Prosperity:

“In the late 1700s, the United Kingdom was the empire that established laws on the globe …

The UK had a strictly protectionist view of trade: all raw materials must come to England, and all luxury goods must be made from those materials while in the UK, to be exported to the rest of the world. Long story short, the UK was where the value was to be created.

Laws were written to lock in this effect. Bringing the ability to refine materials somewhere else, the mere knowledge, was illegal. “Illegal copying”, more precisely.

The heart of the problem is this: those who decide what is “illegal” to copy do so from a basis of not wanting to get outcompeted, and never from any kind of moral high ground. It’s just pure industrial protectionism.

… Copying brings prosperity at the national and the individual levels. Those who would seek to outlaw it, or obey such unjust bans against copying, have no moral high ground whatsoever”

Posted in AltEco, Business, Intake, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Bryan Stevenson – Just Mercy

n

As I watched this interview I sensed valuable parallels between the race-conflict discussed and the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
Part1:


Pietro and our ongoing dialogue came to my mind at 3:26 in Part2:

“It doesn’t matter who did what to whom, it matters that we deal with the carnage, with the legacy of that injury … “

Posted in inside, Intake, Israel, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Harry’s

n

A while back I came across an Israeli company that sells shaving razors: XBlade (<– warning: site is in Hebrew and automatically plays an annoying video). In an article about them their founders talk about taking on Gillette – the international brand market leader who’s blades are obscenely expensive. I liked the idea and one particular detail caught my attention – the blades are manufactured in Germany … in a old and established company called Feintechnik.

Since I don’t live in Israel anymore I began a search to fin Feintechnik blades in Europe where I can easily get my hands on them. My research led me to Harry’s. Harrys tells a similar story – taking on Gillette … but there the story takes on an interesting twist. Apparently one of the founders of Harrys is also one of the founders of WarbyParker – a company I read about who took on the establised market of prescriptions glasses … I was impressed by their story at the time. The story of Harry’s is just as impressive.

The founders apparently raised ~$120m venture capital of which ~$100m went to buying an established German company … Feintechnik. The rest seems to have gone to creating …  Harrys. Everything I have met from them has been immaculate: a simple and effective product line, a clean and sharp web presence with some excellent purposeful user experience design. I was really excited … but they are only available in the USA. So I wrote them (seeing how they now own Feintechnik AND knowing that other sub-brands, like XBlade, exist) to ask about similar products that may be available in Europe. I got a friendly and genuinely caring response within a few hours.

I was moved and impressed … and not just about the response and shaving products (shaving is a very small part of my life). As someone who lives closer to nature and having become more aware of ecology and sustainability I tend to be exposed to a lot of negative information (we aren’t doing a very good job in relating to and caring about the environment in which we all live together) which can sometimes be challenging to contain without being overwhelmed. In that context Harry’s is a glimpse of an exciting and promising future. This is a new generation of business and business people. They are demonstrating that quality can be made in an affordable and caring way. They are evidence that there is hope for new flavors of doing  founded on care and being in service (rather than pushing cheap products with shiny branding for abusive prices).

I was also  entertained and moved in witnessing the different cultural biases between XBlade (the Israeli brand) and Harry’s. I was aligned with the affordable-razors-anti-Gillette story of the Israeli brand but turned off by, what I perceived to be, its blunt and crude cultural settings. I was relieved by the ambience at Harry’s. That too speaks, at least potentially, to an evolutionary story. I doubt that the designers of either brand consciously set out on an evolutionary journey. But when the two are seen side by side (and you know Hebrew) they scream an evolutionary story.

The representative from Harry’s still hasn’t found a European brand for me. But amazingly she is still trying. It’s been almost a month and I still get an occassional email from her reminding me that she is still searching. Meanwhile I am looking forward to getting my hands on Harry’s products via a contact in the USA :)

Well done Harry’s … inspiring work!

 

 

Posted in AltEco, Business, Design, Enjoy, inside, outside | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours